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  • Dry cymbals?

    Some people describe the tonal characteristc or sound of a cymbal as "dry". What does dryness refer to?

  • #2
    Basically I would say its a lack of "wash". Quick decay when you strike them and usually a very "pingy" sound. You can hear every stick hit and none of them get "lost". If that makes sense.

    Usually dry cymbals are more common in music like jazz. Dry cymbals tend to just get swallowed up when surrounded by monster stacks and distortion.

    Think un lathed cymbals like Istanbuls etc. I had a Sabian Jack DeJohnette signature ride (first generation) ages ago and it was the dryest thing I've ever heard. Great bell sound.

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    • #3
      very few overtones
      when you hit a cymbal, you hear a whole myriad of sounds, or tones. There is the initial/most prominent one, then there are the overtones. More overtones yield more of a washy sound--more sound in general.
      dry means that there aren't as many of these overtones
      this produces more stick definition, to

      sometimes have more of a pingy sound, but not always
      "If you can't play the blues...you might as well hang it up." - Dexter Gordon

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      • #4
        Some cymbals "build up" this steady wash or "white noise" that gets more pronounced as you play. It comes from the vibrations that the cymbal generate while hitting. Some cymbals take longer than others to "recover" from a hit before becoming quiet. While others are quick to generate a sound and any overtones die off fast.This is from the way it is manufactured - the method of lathing, the thickness of the cymbal, the hammering, the type of metal used , etc.
        A dry cymbal as stated before can be quite pingy and bright, but I would characterize the sound of a dry ride as "tick tick tick" while a "wet" sounding ride would come across more like tick-hmmmmm,tick-hmmmmmm, tick-hmmmm. Meaning that the sound from the last hit is carried over into the next hit and the definition of the hit can get lost in the steady wash. This isn't a bad thing, as this white noise can fill up the sound and make a song sound fuller.
        You can combat this on a cymbal that has a lot of wash by using nylon tipped sticks. This will give you more attack on each hit and allow the steady
        rhythm of your timekeeping to come across above the wash.
        A dry cymbal is better for more intricate playing where you need each hit to be heard, such as jazz.
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        • #5
          I go a little more specific than that. I consider dry by the 'white noise' content. I would even exclude ping, clang, and other sweet or sour artifacts.
          Sound Edge hihats would be a good example. They have lots of sustain but unless you hit the bell, no ping or clang to speak of. Another stand out example would be Buddy Rich Live in London. He used large crashes that for all the world sounded like Paistes - like blasts of air. They were probably Zil. Ks but that's my recollection.
          Anyway IMO 'dry' - crispy, white noisy, like dry leaves under your feet.
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          • #6
            I will agree with the others. A dry cymbal is less washy with less overtones, BUT it is NOT always more pingy or clangy! It just mostly refers to less build up while playing. Yes the more extreme dry rides are very tight and clangy sounding. A Zildjian Z custom or a Paiste RUDE might be dry but they are also very heavy for the most part.

            I have a 21" Sabian Dry ride that is only about medium weight. The bell isn't really anymore clangy that a normal ride.

            If you ever hear the song "Take it to the Limit" by The Eagles from the 70's you will hear the ride sound that is close to how my dry ride sounds in person while riding on the bow of the cymbal. Where the mics and compression might make it dry for the CD, my cymbal sounds close to that in person without EQ. When I say close I mean that my dry ride has little more fullness and "live" sound to it. But it is very close in pitch and decay.

            So just because it's "dry" doesn't always mean clangy, it can just mean that there is less wash (overetones); not that a dry cymbal is always "VOID" of any overtones. I just wanted to clear that up if I could and hope people understand my point. Thanks guys!
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